It’s the issue that never goes away in Nelson.
There is never enough housing in the city, but several projects that were either completed or underway in 2021 have attempted to address the issue.
In June, the first new affordable housing complex built in Nelson in seven years opened. The 43-unit Hall Street Place was completed two years after Nelson CARES acquired the empty lot at Hall and Front Streets.
The building features nine subsidized units available for people on low income as well as two for people with disabilities that came with 24-7 staffing.
“This is just absolutely amazing what Nelson CARES was able to do,” said Mayor John Dooley. “Once again they’ve delivered a high-quality project in our community.”
There’s more to come from Nelson CARES. The non-profit organization is in the final stages of completing Lakeside Place on Nelson Avenue, which has faced construction delays during the pandemic. The building will add 47 units for seniors and adults with disabilities.
In September, the ribbon was also cut on Herridge Place.
The project by SHARE Housing Initiative Society added 39 units aimed at renters who are employed but couldn’t find housing in Nelson.
Pastor Jim Reimer had championed the project for nearly a decade prior to its completion.
“We’ve got people moving in here who are sleeping in cars … because they have no place to live,” said Reimer. “People need food, but also need just a safe place where there’s a locked door, a bathroom and a bed.”
There’s also more housing on the way.
In October, Selkirk College announced it would build a new two-storey student housing building with 36 beds at Nelson’s Silver King Campus. The college is also building a three-storey student housing complex at its Castlegar campus.
On Victoria Street, construction is underway on a five-storey apartment building that will offer 46 units as well as commercial space on the former site of Kerr’s Apartments. It’s expected to be completed by August 2022.
The Kaslo Housing Society is also working toward a 10-unit affordable housing project in the village’s downtown, while New Denver will build a 10-unit complex.
Work is also underway on mitigating the housing problem in other ways.
In Procter, Twente Additive Manufacturing is building small homes using a 3D printer and concrete. The company has also partnered with Vancouver-based World Housing to build five homes in Procter for single mothers in need.
If the project is deemed a success, the organizations will work on more housing in remote communities around the world.
Finding a solution to the affordable housing crisis is a passion for Twente Additive Manufacturing president Ian Comishin, who believes 3D printers will one day be common on construction sites.
“Everyone’s going to have one of these things,” he said.
Meanwhile, Nelson city council is collaborating with Small Housing BC on solutions for making infill housing — new homes built among already-existing urban buildings — more affordable.
Small Housing BC’s idea is to create surplus by renovating family homes into multiple units, with one unit in each home offered at below-market price in perpetuity.
Affordable homes may always be difficult to find in Nelson, but 2021 went a long way toward making them a little more accessible.